Denver's dining scene is making a big post-pandemic comeback, and we're hungering to get back out. With so many new ventures and old favorites to visit after more than a year of restaurant shutdowns and restrictions, the choices can be overwhelming, so we're introducing Short Stop, with recommendations for things that should definitely be on your culinary short list. This week, it's all about baked goods at Bakery Four.
What: Bakery Four
Where: 3712 West 32nd Avenue
When: Thursday through Sunday, 8 a.m. until sold out (usually by 9:15 to 9:30 a.m.)
For more info: Visit bakeryfour.com
The place: If you've spotted a long line in Highland during the early-morning hours over the past year, it was probably for Bakery Four. Owner Shawn Bergin opened the small bakery on West 32nd Avenue in May 2020, and people have been getting up early to score boxes of his baked goods, from cookies and pastries to bread and bagels, ever since. The place is so small, in fact, that only one party can go in at a time to tell Bergin what they'd like boxed up. A chalkboard sign outside lists the items available each day, so in order to keep things moving along, it's best to be prepared before going in — though getting distracted by the delicate layers of a chocolate croissant and changing your mind at the last minute is completely understandable.
The lack of space is the factor that really makes these goodies hard to get; Bergin can only produce so many items in the tiny kitchen. That's why he's planning a fall move to a 3,000-square-foot space at 4150 Tennyson Street in late September or early October. But why wait? All you need to do is set an alarm and head out early — and then you, too, can walk away with a brown box filled with delectable bites.
What you're eating: Whatever Bergin's putting out (and whatever's left when you get there); there doesn't seem to be a wrong move at this place. My best advice: Follow your heart.
I arrived around 8:15 a.m. on a Thursday and got in the queue behind eight other parties waiting their turn to go inside. The line behind me grew quickly, but by 8:30, I was on my way to the office, a box of pastries and giant loaf of country bread ($10) in hand.
The menu options for the day included classic and chocolate croissants, vanilla bean and spiced apple spandauers (a Danish pastry with custard), morning buns, cardamom buns, classic bagels and cinnamon oatmeal cookies...along with that bread. I have New York roots, so loving bagels is in my blood. Plus, I'd been craving these hard since spotting a scrumptious photo of them on Instagram last week. So I copped one of my very own, and oh, what a bagel it was, surpassing every other bagel I've had in Denver. It was still slightly warm when I sliced it open and slathered it with butter, with a crispy crunch outside, impeccably chewy insides and a prominent sourdough funk. No toasting needed here.
I also got a plain croissant and a chocolate one, both with seemingly infinite layers of light pastry, along with one vanilla bean spandauer, which was oh-so-light and eggy, with vanilla bean specks throughout the custard filling.
The bread will be tucked tightly into a kitchen towel blanket as recommended in the bakery's FAQs, where it will sit until I tote it to a Fourth of July party on Saturday; there it will be served with a red, white and blue-themed cheese board I'm planning to make.
Bottom line (and this is coming from someone who is decidedly not a morning person and may even have been nursing a slight hangover the morning I visited): This is a spot that is very, very much worth waking up early for. And when the new location opens, I'll happily stand in line there, too.
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